We all want to feel like we are the masters of our destiny.
We want to be free.
We wish there was more time in a day.
We hate being controlled by someone else.
We want to spend our time doing things we enjoy.
But most of us are stuck spending 9 hours a day sitting in an office or cubical (or equivalent voluntary prison) plus commuting time, hating what we do and lamenting that the sun will set shortly after we are released from work for the day. We carry around a constant feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). The truth is that we are missing out.
Well, I’m not. Not anymore. I forced myself to escape the rat race nearly 20 years ago. (More on that later.)
Whether you want to have more free time to spend doing fun things with your family or traveling the world or you want to make more money so you can pay to do those fun things, if you’re an employee your hands are tied. More accurately:
Your finances and schedule are tied to your job.
You can work more hours or work hard to climb the ladder. But then you have the money to do things but you don’t have the time.
You can go back to school (or take an online course) to learn a new skill that opens up opportunities for a job you enjoy more. Doing a job you love certainly makes better use of 9 hours a day of your life, but you’re still trapped.
Not to mention that there is no such thing as “job security,” so you’re constantly at the mercy of an economic downturn, industry change, or the whims of your boss.
Your entire life is beholden to the almighty employer.
And it really sucks.
You Want to Live Life on Your Terms
You want to go to sleep and wake up when you want to, not be waking every morning in a fit of dread when the alarm goes off. (Just me?)
You want to be able to take the afternoon off to take your kid to the doctor or take advantage of a beautiful day for a hike without being afraid that if you ask for time off you’ll be told “no” or scorned. Even if they say “yes”, this time off cuts into the limited amount of time you’re allowed to take off every year. It’s like you’re some kind of slave. (You are.)
You want to be able to speak your mind and share your ideas without feeling like your boss will feel threatened by your creativity.
You want to be paid for what you actually accomplish and what you contribute to society, not how many hours your butt sits in a chair.
My Wake Up Call (Are You Going to Answer Yours?)
I know exactly how life-sucking and soul-killing it is. I submitted to a life that wasn’t mine and squandered my potential for a decade. I hated it, but I didn’t know I had a choice but to stuff myself into the corporate box. I stuffed all of my true desires so deep down they popped back up in my boy as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Until one day when I made a choice…
I sat in my cubicle (cell) at one in the afternoon and lamented the fact that even though I was done my work for the day I had to plant my bum in that chair for another four hours because, well, that’s just the stupid corporate world we live in. I was either going to cry, throw up, scream, or stab someone. I had to get out of there. I told my boss I was sick and needed to leave. I got in the car and just started driving…not home…just anywhere other than this.
I ended up 45 minutes away at a state park. I drove in, took a turn I’d never been down before, parked my car and started walking. I walked and walked until the sun glistening on a small swampy pond caught my eye. I walked toward it, sank into the grass on the bank, and I cried.
I cried because I sucked at life—I just couldn’t stuff myself into that box.
I cried because I knew the rat race was slowly killing me.
I cried because I shamed myself into accepting my life with the justification that other people would DIE to have what I had—I “should” like it, but the truth was that I didn’t. And I hated myself for that.
I knew what I had to do, but it scared the crap out of me.
That day I made a decision to be free.
I made a decision to stop living everyone else’s dream.
I made a decision to be motivated by my own laziness. I could work my butt off for MYSELF and create the freedom my heart longed for. (Read more about my entrepreneurial wake up call… )
I knew I would not survive living within the confines of a traditional job. It was truly killing me. Although I found the prospect of self-employment terrifying, I was a lot less afraid of the uncertainty and learning curve of working for myself than I was of living a life that wasn’t really mine for one… more… day.
Self-Employment is the First Step
Being self-employed gives you more control over your time, your money and your quality of life.
Being self-employed comes with its stresses and a lot of responsibility, but it also gives you back the power to determine your own schedule and how you spend your time.
Whether you create a side hustle part time on the side, become a freelancer, or start a business, self-employment puts you in charge of your income. You’re no longer limited to how much someone else feels your time is worth. The extra money can be used to enjoy life more or invest in your future.
And even if it’s a part time side-gig, doing something you enjoy or making money with your mission makes life more fulfilling and can make even a mundane job feel tolerable.
Most importantly, embracing some form of self-employment is the first step to living an empowered life.
Once you take back control over your money and your time only THEN will you have the mental space within which to answer the question, “what do I really want to do with my life?”
If you’re anything like me, you probably have no idea what you actually want in life… but you’re 100% certain that THIS is not it.
If fulfillment and freedom aren’t enough to motivate you to take the plunge, maybe a bit of fear mongering will. (Just kidding! Sort of.)
The Future of “Work” is Changing
I had just finished a weekly (virtual) meeting with my team in which we had a length discussion about ostriches. (Don’t ask, we are weird.) I was laying on the beach listening to Gary Vee (one of MY favorite entrepreneur influencers) and I noticed a person next to me had a chair with an ostrich symbol on it. So weird!
I zoomed in to take a picture of the ostrich and as I was doing this, no joke, Gary Vee said this:
“I see a lot of businesses play ostrich in life. They’ve got one client that’s driving their entire business and their strategy is to put their head in the sand and pray to God they don’t get fired.”
First of all, holy crap! What a synchronicity!
Secondly, this is a great point that I have talked about many times. This is exactly where my business was at a few years ago, with too many eggs in a single basket. I knew too well the danger of depending on a single source for all of your income. I had previously been an employee, after all.
And that’s exactly my point. Being an employee with none of your income coming from an alternative source (dependent solely on your own efforts) is a dangerous game.
The rapid evolution of technology is changing the nature of work. Exponential technologies like AI, robotics and automation are predicted to replace many jobs and new inventions will make old technology obsolete. This does not mean jobs will disappear entirely; they will be replaced by new jobs in new industries.
In addition, the structure of “work” will change. In fact, it has already started. With “gig economy” jobs, like driving for Uber or delivering for InstaCart, traditional full-time employment is becoming less of the go-to standard, both for employers and employees.
This means that regardless of the industry in which you currently work, you would be wise to pay attention to changes in the marketplace and where your industry is going. But it also means there is more and more opportunity to get into the entrepreneurship game, even if it’s just a side hustle in the gig economy. (Read more about the job revolution here…)
Take Your Financial Security into Your Own Hands
Even if you have no desire to be a full-fledged, self-employed business owner, starting a side hustle is the best way to capitalize on the opportunities of the growing gig economy and new trends in the marketplace while minimizing your risk of being in an industry that is disrupted.
In an uncertain economy, the worst position to be in is depending on a paycheck from a company that could quickly become obsolete.
- No matter what happens in the broader economy, you have a stream of income that you have control of.
- More importantly, you have the knowing within yourself that you are capable of creating an income yourself.
Whether you want to make an extra hundred bucks a month or plant the seeds of a business that can one day replace your job all together, your future is in your hands.
Don’t be an ostrich.
The Dream of Entrepreneurship (and Why Most Won’t Follow It)
More people than ever have raised an eyebrow of intrigue about the possibility of living life on their terms by starting their own business. It’s no wonder entrepreneurship looks sexy, with Instagram entrepreneurs flashing photos of working from the beach, tech start-ups becoming household names, and Shark Tank receiving over 4 million weekly views.
But intrigue quickly fades into overwhelm once they dig deeper into books, podcasts and courses. They become intimidated, discouraged and confused by too many options and conflicting (usually bad) advise.
For many, their eyes glaze over when they start to think about how they will market their new idea. (Yuck!)
For others, he sheer terror of uncertainty is enough to commit to living vicariously through their favorite influencers.
For those who do jump and actually try it out, they’re often burned by bad advise, get rich quick schemes, or addiction to courses, programs and coaching (which they never actually implement).
And for those who pull it off, make some money for themselves, and are on their way to living the dream, they’re often smacked in the face with disappointment when it isn’t at all what those Photoshoped Instagram photos made it look like.
I had my own wake-up-call of this nature. I once had an image of a woman working on a laptop on the beach on a vision board. I can speak from experience that the glare of the laptop while sitting by the beach makes it impossible to see anything. Sitting in a beach chair or on the sand using a laptop gives you a terrible kink in your neck. The truth is that if you can get 15 minutes of glory trying to pull this fantasy off, you’re lucky. I made it 10 minutes.
That’s the thing; the dreams we’re sold are like false idols. The money, the freedom, the lifestyle—none of it will save us from ourselves. (Read more about what it actually takes to live your dreams…)
Does any of this sound familiar?
Do you feel resistance when you think about actually implementing any of the business advise you’ve been drinking from the water hose?
Do you feel the twinge of nausea when you think about marketing?
If so, I have two pieces of good news for you.
First—technology has made starting a business easier than it’s ever been.
The good news is that making money on your own terms does not have to be hard or overwhelming. Technology has made it easy to plug into existing money-making gigs. Whether you want to create an online store or become a service provider for a gig employer, like Uber, all it takes is downloading an app or signing up for a website platform to get started.
Second—you have access to everything you need at your fingertips.
Plus, never before have the resources to start and run a business been at your fingertips. Google, YouTube and online courses make the tactical strategies and steps you need to know to get started easily accessible and either free or low-cost, so you do not have to figure it out for yourself. You can learn from a mentor who has done what you want to do.
Just don’t get distracted by the shiny object or flashy posts that make entrepreneurship look easy. It’s not. But it doesn’t have to be hard either.
Start with You
The fastest and most enjoyable way to start making money online is to sell yourself. No, not your body—your knowledge, experience or wisdom!
For example, that day as sat on the bank of the pond pondering my fate, I decided that my first step to freedom would be to quit my job (as a graphic designer) and start doing freelance work.
That’s one option: become a contractor or freelancer doing what you already do now.
If you have an expertise or skill that’s unrelated to your job, such as from a hobby or passion, you can start offering a service related to that (whether locally or online).
If it’s something you cannot do for someone, perhaps you could teach it (through an online course or other information product)! The truth is that everyone (yes, including you) has something they know how to do or have experience with that someone else would want to learn.
You could even monetize your stuff or your space through AirBNB, ThredUp, Poshmark, MyEquipment4Rent, or join the gig economy by driving for Uber or InstaCart.
And if you’re entrepreneurial dreams are full-fledged and you’ve got a business idea you want to quantum leap, you can read more about how we start our businesses in just 6 weeks.
The Ultimate Empowerment
Imagine yourself standing on the beach. No, not with your laptop… just enjoying the view. You’re looking out upon the horizon, wondering what is beyond it for you.
You breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the alarm clock won’t be jolting you awake in the wee hours of the morning and you’ll be the director of your own day.
You might feel the burden of responsibilities on your plate and you know you may be working late into the night, but you feel a new sense of empowerment knowing that it’s all on your terms.
You’re putting your time and effort into padding your own wallet, not making someone else rich. You feel the gratification of being rewarded for what you put out into the world and the safety of knowing your livelihood isn’t in someone else’s hands.
You know no one else but you puts a limit on what you can achieve.
You know that you are capable of generating income for yourself, and no one can take that from you.
And from this place of clarity you feel pieces of your heart come back online and you hear callings you have been deaf too for years.
You start to remember who you truly are and know that you will never squander your potential again.
You have finally embraced the truth you’ve always known, which is that life was meant to be more.
Now that you’ve taken the 1st step of taking your power back, you’re excited about your life and eager to see what else is possible.
And now that you have tasted freedom you will never again be able to stuff yourself back into that box.
By Natalie Rivera